MEET: The Polish Windsurfer Who Charged XXL Jaws

Jason Lock

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Updated 40d ago

Poland is never going to top the bucket list of go to surf destinations (though, maybe?) – but that doesn't mean the country's surfing community are any less pumped when a big swell blips on the radar and it also doesn't mean they're not taking notice of colossal XXL events half way around the world too.

Adam Warchol, 19, who was born in Poland's capital of Warsaw, got his first taste of Jaws back in December -- before heading out on the 'day-of-days' last Saturday.

Adam's family relocated to Tarifa, Spain, when he was six-years-old. And although there are can be decent enough waves along the strait of Gibraltar, it's plagued with strong winds, making it less a surf spot and more ideal for windsurfing.

Tarifa served as Adam's stomping ground – picking up a board at nine-years-old and then learning to windsurf by 12. And from there, he never lost site of wanting to wrangle the oceanic mountains of Jaws. “It's all I've ever wanted since day one,” he tells MSW. And, how'd he get on at massive Peahi last week?

“People told me it was the biggest wave ever surfed by a windsurfer,” he says. And although his wings got clipped after a crazy drop, this hasn't put a stop to Adam's need to chase massive swells. Anyway, take a peep at the vid above and read on for his take on the wave, his experience of a massive a hold down (while attached to board with mast et al), and what's next for this young gun.

Surfing Jaws on the biggest swell in years is not something to take lightly. Have you been training for big waves?
Yeah for sure. Before coming to Maui, I did a free-diving, AIDA one course that helped me a lot. I also was putting in practice all the tips I learned from that course and I was training here.

What about safety, did you tell anyone you were going to surf that day?
I went on the boat with Jason Prior and he helped me all day long. We had a full team of  medical staff and photographers, that Andrea Moller organised. I felt really happy when everyone told me that was the biggest wave at Jaws that day and most likely the biggest wave ever ridden by a windsurfer

She was driving the jet ski, and she is herself, beside being an incredible person and surfer, also a licensed ambulance driver. Her husband was on a stand by with a helicopter.

How did it feel to surf Jaws for the first time and talk us through your waves?
So, my first time surfing Jaws was the December 1, the day that I received my first ever surfing gun for big waves. I knew it was something that I wanted to do. My first ever windsurf session at Jaws was the next day, December 2. So, actually, before the all-time big swell that happened Saturday 16, I had surfed there seven or so times. And then the wave on the big day was one I'll never forget.

It probably wasn't even five minutes when I saw this massive set coming. The second wave was looking gigantic, and as soon as I saw it, I thought, 'this could be the wave of my life'.

I knew I was sitting very deep at that point, but I saw all the skis with the best surfers in the world also hunting for that wave. But they ended up giving me that wave so I fully committed. People think that windsurfing is easy because you can get advantage of the wind...

That moment when I was dropping in on that wave, was the most incredible, magical and wonderful experience I've ever had. The adrenaline rush, that feeling of riding that monster with such a steep drop, and the whole scenario I had in front of me, with hundreds of jet skis and boats sitting in the channel, looking at my ride, was just something I can't really explain.

It's feeling the huge power of mother nature at my back, the speed that I had and the shape of that beautiful wave, was the biggest joy I've ever experienced.

People think that windsurfing is easy because you can get advantage of the wind. But, where I was, it was even harder to make the drop because it was so steep and I was going so fast, that one mistake and I would be flying from the top of that wave into the mouth of this giant.

And the that thing caught up with you too. Not an enviable position with a sail...
As I was going down, I looked above me... I saw this thing that was terrifying, magical and unique at the same time, this huge lip coming at me, at that was like, wow.

I already knew what was about to come, and as soon as I felt the lip coming down on me (was probably my instinct telling me that) I bailed, I wanted to stay as far as possible from those windsurfing foot straps. This is the moment when I felt helpless, and I knew the only way to survive was staying calm

Probably one sec later and I would've lost my legs, [laughs]. Just as I bailed, the wave took me with such violence, like, nothing that I ever imagined I would ever experience. I went over the falls inside that huge barrel, didn't have a chance to take a breath at any point, and what was happening under that wave is impossible to explain or compare to anything.

I was just pulled in all directions, and for a very long time. This is the moment when I felt helpless, and I knew the only way to survive was staying calm, as I said before, I was prepared for a situation like this.

I pulled my vest, but honestly when it's that big you have to wait anyways for the wave to stop pounding you.

So I was under that wave for a while, and as soon I popped up, I had probably around four or five seconds until I went under the second wave which was massive as well.

Before I took that wave on the head, I deflated my vest to avoid the next wave hitting me with 100 per cent of her power.

That wave took me very deep,  I inflated the vest, again, and I was down for a very long time underwater.

Check out Adam's wipeout at 2mins 17secs.

Two waves on the head, that's heavy – what happened as you got to the surface?
Just when I made it to the surface, I saw the giant whitewater of the third wave coming at me, and that wave dragged me super deep. I felt so much pain in my head and my ears, and I thought for a moment, my eardrums would pop from the pressure.

When I popped up to the surface, Kurtis Chong Kee picked me up. Very grateful for that.

I was sad I couldn't sail anymore, but I felt really happy when everyone told me that was the biggest wave at Jaws that day and most likely the biggest wave ever ridden by a windsurfer.

Not bad for a lad from Poland, ey? And how were you feeling before the big day?
We knew about a week and a half in advance about that big swelll coming to Maui and it started looking bigger and bigger and more exciting, the closer we were getting to it.

Three days before that swell, the forecast was looking really big. Everyone was saying that this is going to be the biggest swell in years. I've never seen such an insane forecast like that in my life, where the swell was marked in black on MSW. I knew is going to be gigantic. I was super excited about that upcoming day.

I was actually super worried about my foot because I cut it pretty bad on a coral reef while I was surfing the Tuesday before the swell. I rested for the next two days because I wanted to be 100 per cent ready for the swell. On Friday I was preparing everything and making sure I was ready

We went to Jaws on Thursday, buy actually nothing was going my way that day, and I told myself after that session that Saturday is going to be the redemption.

On Friday I was preparing everything and making sure I was ready.

As I was talking to my friends on Friday, i was saying that it is going to be gigantic. I told them that someone for sure will catch the biggest wave ever at Jaws, and as I was joking,  I literally said: 'maybe it even could be me''. I was nervous but ready at the same time on Friday evening. I have to say, I did sleep pretty well that night.

Anything you would have done differently?
Well, the only thing I would love to have while riding that wave, would be a windsurfing gun. I was the only one riding a normal production board, and if I would have taken a higher line, I wouldn't be able to control the speed on the top of that wave.

Many people were saying that pulling into that barrel would've been safer, but, that's not true. Either you make the barrel or you loose your legs for the rest of your life. Windsurfing is not like towing where you only have a board, so even if you crash with your feet in those foot straps, nothing is going to happen.

But in windsurfing, you have all the rig attached to the board (sail, mast, boom...), so if I would crash on that wave with my feet inside the straps, I don't want to imagine what would happen, but one time I twisted my ankle on a 2ft wave because the board rotated 360 degrees with my foot inside the strap – imagine that at 60ft.

For a second I was truly looking for the barrel but at the end I think I made the right decision to survive this wave.

And what’s next?
I would love to continue my dreams, and be chasing the biggest waves in the world. My big dream is to one day be competing on the WSL Big Wave World Tour, and to become a World Champion in windsurfing.